12-08-2003

One topic shared by most Czech dailies on Tuesday is the continuing heat wave. LIDOVE NOVINY carries a story about a north Bohemian village whose water sources have dried out for the first time in history. According to the paper, a total of twenty-four villages in the region have problems with water distribution. Drinking water has to be carried to the villages in cisterns and fire-fighters fetch service water for watering gardens and house work.

On the same topic, MLADA FRONTA DNES notes that owing to the heat forests are more likely to catch fire, parks in towns are drying out and that both people and animals are suffering from the high temperatures. On the other hand, business is thriving during the heat wave. Big shopping centres are showing high profit as people come there en masse to cool down. The air-conditioned spaces are much more appealing than their hot flats.

The paper goes on: fridges, fans and portable air-conditioners are selling like hot cakes. Power producers also welcome the heat: the country's largest power utility CEZ sells 200 megawatts per day more than last year - the increase amounts to the output of two smaller plants. Beverage producers are also busy. Beer production has increased by twenty percent, and mineral water producers have seen a ten percent rise in sales, says MLADA FRONTA DNES.

The economic daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY comments on the impact of the heat wave on agriculture in the Czech Republic. The paper says that only a year after the huge floods, the amount of water in the soil has reached a critical minimum - a point at which most plants start to wane.

The situation is relatively good in the mountains, namely in the Krkonose and Beskydy mountains, while the most affected region is the south Moravian district of Znojmo. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY adds that this year's drought is not the worst in recent history; the year 2000 brought a more severe drought, while the highest average temperatures were recorded in 1994.

PRAVO writes that Czech trade unionists are planning a protest march through Prague on the 13th of September. The reason - the government-proposed reform of public finances which, according to trade unions leaders, tries to "sweep out" the wallets of the country's poorest. Beside the protest rally, one of the two major trade unions associations has prepared nine amendments to the reform draft and is going to ask MPs to try and push them through in parliament.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that the Office of the Government wasted millions of crowns in 2000 and 2001 according to a report submitted by the Supreme Control Office. The person in charge of the office's spending at that time was minister without portfolio Karel Brezina. The Supreme Control Office found close to fifty cases in which the office broke its regulations.

The paper gives examples: forty-nine flats that were supposed to be allocated to government ministers and judges of the High and Regional Courts in Prague, were instead used by the employees of the Office of the Government. A large percentage of the rent collected went to a private company and not the Government Office. The office bought alcohol and cigarettes as "refreshment for meetings" and its recreational facilities were used by people who had nothing to do with the Office of the Government.

12-08-2003